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Popular recreation destinations near California’s Central Valley

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

Morro Bay is a popular Central Coast beach known for the ancient volcanic mound at the end of the beach, Morro Rock.

Located about two and a half hours from the beach and an hour from the mountains, there are many opportunities in the Fresno area for a good time. While most of the East Coast is snowed in and frozen, those of us near the Central Coast and Sierra Nevada’s have options to explore.

Six counties make up the Central Coast: from the south-to-north, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz.

Monterey is known worldwide for its whale watching tours. Businesses such as Princess Monterey Whale Watching take daily cruises around the bay in which tourists can catch glimpses of dolphins and whales.

There are two seasons for whale watching in Monterey Bay. Visit from mid-December through mid-April to see gray whales, dolphins and killer whales migrating, or visit from mid-April through mid-December to see humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins and killer whales. There are many marine life animals that can be seen while whale watching along the central coast.

There is a wide variety of beaches to choose from when considering vacationing along the Central Coast. Carmel and Cambria, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, tend to be cooler and more cloudy. On the other hand, beaches like Pismo and Avila feature much warmer weather and lots of sunshine.

The following tweet shows a giant octopus that was recently added to the Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach, Feb. 2. The octopus was inadvertently caught by a local fisherman and will be returned to the ocean an about a year. The aquarium is just another thing to do while at the beach.

The tweet below posted, Feb. 7.

At the beach, the local food and drinks are a favorite for Spanish teacher Rachel Rodriguez. She enjoys taking weekend getaways with her sisters to the beach and spending time in the sun.

“I was just recently at the beach this past weekend, and it was much warmer than Fresno,” Rodriguez said. “At home, it was in the 60s and in Pismo it was in the high 70s, the sun was out, and it was just beautiful. Initially, I went to the coast to take a MAT (Miller Analogies Test) test at Cal Poly. I am currently trying to get my masters, so I took advantage of this trip and decided to make it a mini-vacation.

“Right now, I prefer Pismo over other beaches like Cambria and Avila,” Rodriguez continued. “Cambria is just too cold for me, and I don’t really like the sand at Avila. Pismo is my favorite. I do though want to visit more beaches. When I’m at the beach, I must enjoy the local clam chowder like Splash Cafe. I am also a coffee drinker so I like to try the local coffee shops, and my favorites right now are lattes. One thing I would like to say to the people on the East Coast is it may be cheaper to live there, but then again you do get what you pay for.”

Each and every beach town is different in its own way. However, they all share the same salty and moist ocean air, the sound of laughing children and the many seagulls that fly overhead.

At the beach and near coastal areas there are many things to do. From visiting the small oceanfront towns to enjoying the various local foods, going on a shopping spree or hiking with your family, the options are endless.

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

China Peak is a popular skiing and snowboarding destination near Fresno. The resort features 45 runs, lodging and lessons.

Some of the most popular hiking spots are among the Nine Sisters in Morro Bay. The Nine Sisters are a chain of ancient volcanic peaks, which stretch from San Luis Obispo to the Pacific Ocean and provide a chance for people to explore the outdoors.  

Not only do people in California have access to numerous beaches, they can also visit the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Wesley Hinton, ‘20, enjoys both the mountains and the beach.

“At the beach, I like to surf, skimboard and swim in the waves,” Hinton said. “I also like to just sit and watch the ocean. My favorite beach in California is Carmel. When I’m in the mountains, I enjoy snow skiing and boating on mountain lakes.

“If we go to the mountains my family usually goes to China Peak or Shaver Lake,” Hinton continued. “Here in California, we can go to the mountains and ski (most years), and on the same day, we could go to the beach and surf. I love living here.”

At the mountains, there are also many things to do. Skiing, snowboarding, fishing and hiking are among the many. Freshman Stergeos Demetreos shares his passion for skiing and the mountains.

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

There are many national parks and forests. There are many trails, opportunities to rock climb and waterfalls in Yosemite, such as Yosemite Falls.

“I’ve been skiing since I was three years old,” Demetreos said. “I mostly ski in China Peak. However, my family and I have also visited Mammoth and Kirkwood. I enjoy the mountains. It’s really nice up there, and there is a lot to do. I also like to go fishing and tent camping at Shaver Lake with my family. I think here in California we are very fortunate to have all these opportunities.”

The Sierra Nevada mountain range also includes numerous national parks and forests. Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are a few of the closest to the Central Valley.

Another fun opportunity for high school students is to attend a camp. Hume winter camp took place this past weekend, Jan. 19-21. Brynlee Schmidt went camping for the first time with Peoples Church. Schmidt enjoyed her weekend and shares the difference between summer and winter camp.

“Winter camp was so much fun,” Schmidt said. “My favorite part was going ice skating with all my friends in the ark. This was my first time going to Hume winter camp but, I’ve been to the summer camp before. There are a few differences. Hume summer is a week instead of a weekend and summer has teams with recreation whereas Hume winter has a broom hockey tournament. My favorite part of the mountains is all the scenery and just getting to be outdoors a lot. Also, the weather is great.”

In the Central Valley, citizens have many opportunities to visit tourist attractions. Fresno is only two and a half hours from the beach and about an hour from the mountains. Share in the comments below some of your favorite beach and mountain memories.

The following is a Juxtapose photos are of Yosemite Valley taken near the tunnel about 12 hours apart.

Slideshow below includes images from California’s Central Coast and Sierra Nevada getaway spots.

[rev_slider alias=”Braden Nature Pics”]

The author can be reached via email: Braden BellInstagram and Twitter.

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